The LA Chargers and Dallas Cowboys have not been trade partners very often.
In an ongoing series here at Bolt Beat, we are diving into the best trade that the LA Chargers have made with all 31 other NFL franchises in team history. Today, we dive into America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys.
The Chargers and Cowboys have not been trade partners very often and the trades that the teams have made have typically been rather inconsequential. Thus, the best trade, from the Chargers’ side of things, is not that big of a deal.
The two teams were involved in one of the most infamous trades in NFL history. However, that trade did not really benefit (nor hurt) the Chargers, so it cannot be called the best trade from the Chargers’ perspective.
We’ll dive into that now-infamous trade later in the article.
The LA Chargers’ best ever trade with the Dallas Cowboys
In May of 1971, the LA Chargers traded one of the franchise’s greatest all-time receivers to the Dallas Cowboys and received three players whose names do not appear in the Chargers’ history books like Lance Alworth’s does.
However, considering the point in Alworth’s career when this took place and what the Chargers got in return (albeit not sensational), this has to be considered the best trade with the Cowboys that the Chargers have ever made.
The Chargers traded Alworth after his age 30 season and the drop-off was rather fast. Alworth was a Pro Bowler seven years in a row from 1963 to 1969 and was an All-Pro six times in that span. In 1970, he dropped off from his Pro Bowl form, only recording 608 receiving yards.
In Dallas he regressed further. He recorded 487 and 195 receiving yards in his two seasons and was out of the league after the 1972 season.
In return, the Chargers received a solid starting defensive tackle in Ron East, who started for the Bolts for three seasons. The team also received a new starting tight end in Pettis Norman, who also played with the team for three seasons. He did not put up great numbers at the end of his career, but did produce.
Liscio was a solid left tackle that would have started for the Chargers but never found the field due to injuries. He was eventually traded to the Miami Dolphins and then back to the Dallas Cowboys.
The now-infamous trade that the LA Chargers and Dallas Cowboys were involved in:
A quarter of the way into the 1989 season, new Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson traded legendary running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in a deal that wound up being highway robbery for Dallas.
Dallas received five players from Minnesota along with a first, second and sixth-round draft pick. However, there were conditions along with the players that if they were cut by the Cowboys prior to February 1, 1990, then the Cowboys would receive additional picks.
That was the plan all along for the Cowboys, who had no interest in the players and only in the picks. They traded one of the players, Darrin Nelson, to the Chargers for a fifth-round pick. Nelson wasn’t anything special on the Chargers.
The Cowboys cut the remaining players. Dallas received Minnesota’s first and second-round pick in 1991 and 1992 as well as their third-round pick in 1992. All in all, the Cowboys received eight picks from the Vikings for Walker.
By utilizing those picks in other trades, the Cowboys were able to build up their roster and that is what led to the team’s three Super Bowls in the 1990s. The headlining player that came as a result of all of this was Emmitt Smith.
The LA Chargers were just the third team that was on the outside looking in on what is perhaps the most infamous trade in NFL history.